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Friday 20 April 2018
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Paramedics to prescribe drugs following change in law

Paramedics will prescribe medicines as early as 2019 in a bid to take the pressure off GP practices and hospitals

Hundreds of advanced paramedics will start prescribing medicines as early as 2019 in a bid to take the pressure off GP practices and hospitals, NHS England has said.

Around 700 advanced paramedics will be able to prescribe medication to patients who do not need hospital treatment, following an amendment to the human medicines regulations (2012), which came into force yesterday (1 April).

Registered paramedics already supply and administer some medicines for their patients, but the amendment will allow them to write prescriptions, upon conclusion of rigorous training programmes.   

Paramedics in GP practices

At present, several practices have advanced paramedics working with them as part as part of multi-disciplinary clinical teams.

‘Under the new laws, they will be able to prescribe medicines for their patients without delay and without the need for the patient to see a GP.

‘Paramedics can help to manage urgent, same day patient requests, which may also include home visits’, said NHS England.

Some practices, such as Adelaide Street Surgery in Blackpool, have successfully freed up GP time and saved money by employing paramedic practitioners, the practice manager told Management in Practice.

More paramedics are getting more involved in general practice, after a Health Education England (HEE) paramedic pilot launched last January will see paramedics rotating through the ambulance service, community multi-disciplinary team and primary care.

Cut delays

Commenting on the change of legislation, many health leaders agreed that having paramedics to prescribe medicines will allow patients to get quick access vital medicines.

Health minister Lord O’Shaughnessy said: ‘We strongly welcome the expansion of independent prescribing to paramedics. This will allow the NHS to make full use of its highly skilled workforce, ease pressure on other key services and improve care by ensuring patients have quicker access to vital medicines and can start treatment without delay.’

Chief executive of the UK Sepsis Trust, Dr Ron Daniels said: ‘Timely identification and treatment of sepsis can mean the difference between life and death, so better access to healthcare professionals who can make accurate diagnoses and prescribe antibiotics where appropriate is an important provision.’